Installation view at The New-York Historical Society: Unknown artist, Portrait of Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838), ca. 1820, oil on canvas, frame size: 56 x 44 in. (142.2 x 111.7 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York (C00.37)
Art Properties has loaned a painting to the exhibition The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World, which is now open at The New-York Historical Society. This exhibition focuses on the historical and cultural lives of Jewish immigrants, forced from their ancestral lands in Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, to newfound freedom in colonial New Amsterdam through early 19th-century New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.
The painting on loan from the Columbia University art collection is this early 19th-century, three-quarter-length seated portrait of Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838). Born in a Jewish ghetto near Venice, Da Ponte later converted to Catholicism and eventually emigrated to the United States where, at the age of 76, he became the first professor of Italian at Columbia College. Da Ponte is best known around the world as the librettist for three operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. (You can read more about Da Ponte’s colorful life here.)
The painting of Da Ponte and its historical frame were in need of conservation in order to be shown at the exhibition. We are very grateful to Mr. Leonard L. Milberg for providing full financial support to have this work completed. Our thanks also to conservator Stephen Kornhauser and Eli Wilner & Co. for all their hard work restoring Da Ponte’s grandeur for this exhibition.
As the world’s attention turns to Rio with the beginning of the summer Olympics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library offers a glimpse into the city’s past. A souvenir album of Rio de Janeiro from the 1920s is included in the Viewbook exhibition, on display through October 31st in the Avery Classics Reading Room.
A cidade do Rio de Janeiro [AA857 R4 C48] features bird’s eye images of the city, along with street and waterfront views, and photographs of important public buildings. The Rio viewbook reveals both the way that the city viewed itself and what appealed to contemporary tourists. The distinctive green-tinted images are collotypes, a common and relatively inexpensive technique for the mechanical reproduction of photographs.
Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section
Curator: Teresa Harris
March 14, 2016 – June 17, 2016
Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
By the early sixteenth century, architects had established conventions for depicting the most important aspects of buildings, namely their elevations, plans, and sections. These conventions have continued to the present day, although computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modeling programs have begun to alter the architect’s relationship to drawing. This exhibition focuses on a single type of drawing – the section – created by cutting a plane through a structure, allowing an architect to evoke the interior spatial complexity of a building. The images range from Palladio’s section of the Villa La Rotonda (1570) to Ólafur Eliasson’s Your House (2006) in which each of the 454 leaves represent a vertical cross-section of the artist’s own house in Copenhagen.
Florine Stettheimer, Jenny and Genevieve, ca. 1915, oil on canvas, 32 x 43 3/8 in. (81.2 x 110.3 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, Gift of the Estate of Ettie Stettheimer, 1967 (1967.23.27)
Art Properties has loaned six paintings by Florine Stettheimer and a drawing by Marguerite Zorach to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, for their current exhibition O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York. This exhibition considers the art and careers of Marguerite Zorach, Florine Stettheimer, Helen Torr, and Georgia O’Keeffe together for the first time. These women all knew one another and worked in New York. They sought to be recognized as artists in their own right, but their identity as women shaped the circumstances under which they worked, the forms their art took, and the way their pictures were interpreted. Among the works on loan from Art Properties is Stettheimer’s vibrantly-colored painting Jenny and Genevieve, which was conserved for this show. In this work the artist explores class and racial distinctions in her depiction of a black servant and a white customer in a cafe.
An exhibit of architectural toys from Avery’s collections
Curated by: Teresa Harris
November 16, 2015-January 29, 2016
Avery Classics reading room
Image from instructional booklet accompanying Richter’s Anchor-Building-Bricks: real stone in three colours. (New York, 1887). Avery Classics AA200 D78
Frank Lloyd Wright credited Froebel blocks with teaching him the geometry of architecture. While not every child who played with Froebel’s toys grew into a world-renowned architect, the blocks represent the most celebrated example of the nineteenth-century trend to transform play into an active educational experience. That trend continues to the present day, and many of the toys on display in Avery Classics attempt to teach spatial awareness, often by allowing the user to build a structure for him or herself. The toys range from puzzles and 19th century peepshows commemorating significant architectural exhibitions to pop-up books to Lego models of masterworks by Wright. Other items on display, like the playing cards featuring monuments of the modern movement along with caricatures of renowned architects, are oriented towards a more sophisticated audience and assume a substantial knowledge of twentieth century architecture. Take a break this holiday season and come play with us!
Celebrate Avery’s 125th anniversary at this special one-day only exhibit!
Here’s one of our treasures which will be in the show:
Addition to the Whitney Museum, New York, New York: scheme 3, Madison Avenue elevation, 1988. 1990.004.00266
One of the most controversial projects of the 1980s, this drawing represents Graves’ third and final scheme for the Whitney Museum expansion. The Graves proposal was not popular and eventually both Rem Koolhaas and Renzo Piano supplied subsequent schemes. Eventually the popularity of the High Line provided a location receptive to a contemporary building and Renzo Piano’s new museum has recently opened to general acclaim.
“Wolf Dance,” Inupiat people, 1890s, graphite and pen-and-ink on paper, 6 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (16 x 23.7 cm), Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York, The Bush Collection of Religion and Culture (C00.1483.302).
During the Spring 2015 semester, Art Properties worked with Elizabeth Hutchinson, Associate Professor of Art History, Barnard College/Columbia University, and her students on a set of ten drawings from the 1890s made by the Inupiat people. These drawings depict aspects of a ceremonial ritual still performed by some groups in Northwest Alaska, and are part of the extensive Bush Collection of Religion and Culture, donated to Columbia by alumnus and Philosophy instructor Wendell Ter Bush (1867-1941). The result of this curricular collaboration is an exhibition curated by Prof. Hutchinson with her students and installed in the Gallery at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Hamilton Hall, on the Morningside campus of Columbia University. These fascinating drawings, made by unknown indigenous artists, document moments in the Messenger Feast, an essential event in the ceremonial lives of the Inupiat people. The drawing seen here depicts the Wolf Dance. Entitled “Messages from across Time and Space: Inupiat Drawings from the 1890s at Columbia University,” the exhibition runs September 22-November 20, 2015.
For more information about these works, visit the accompanying exhibition website.
Video – https://vimeo.com/143379011
A.J. Downing and His Legacy
Assembled by the staff of Avery Library and Janet W. Foster, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University GSAPP
September 1 – November 13, 2015
Avery Classics reading room
Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Alexander Jackson Downing, known as the “father” of the American architectural pattern book, was born 200 years ago, on October 31, 1815, in Newburgh, New York. Not an architect, nor a trained artist, Downing was an avid reader of British horticulture publications, some of which illustrated ideal houses for the country. Through the British publications, Downing saw both how books could transmit design ideas in words and pictures, and how modest houses with Romantic Revival design gestures could form the basis for an improved American housing for its middle classes, particularly in rural and small town settings. To further that end, he published three important works: A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (first issued in 1841); Cottage Residences (first published 1842); and The Architecture of County Houses (first issued in 1852). Each ran to several editions, and remained in print for some thirty years. Earlier architectural design books showed buildings in stiff and barren elevation drawings, where in Downing’s images, the house, landscape, and inhabitants become part of one happy, desirable image. The exhibition in Avery Library’s Classics Reading Room showcases several editions of Downing’s publications and those of many successors, offering a glimpse into the world of mid-19th century architectural publishing in the United States and revealing how Downing’s distillation of design ideas came to influence American housing for half a century.
On June 24th , Avery Library welcomed the office of G. P. Schafer Architect for a viewing of materials from special collections.The evening focused on American domestic architecture, emphasizing the neoclassical and vernacular influences of interest to Mr. Schafer’s firm.
Avery Classics presented a selection of books that a traced a narrative from the earliest American treatises on architecture through the heyday of nineteenth-century domestic pattern books and culminated in The House Beautiful, a volume designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a text written by the Unitarian minister, William Channing Gannett. Drawings & Archives featured an in-depth look at drawings and photographs from the archive of Charles Platt, one of the leading practitioners of American neoclassicism and architectonic garden design at the turn of the twentieth century. In 2011, Mr. Schafer’s firm renovated Boxwood, a residence designed by Platt almost a century earlier outside Nashville, Tennessee.